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IT leadership: Signs you're a micromanager (and how to stop)

Sharon Florentine | March 4, 2015
Micromanagement may seem harmless, but it's sabotaging your teams, your productivity and morale from within, and stifling your business's ability to grow. Here's how to tell if you're a micromanager, and some steps you can take to overcome this fatal flaw.

"It sounds really terrible on its surface, but sometimes, as a person in a leadership role or in management, you have to think, 'I get paid too much to do this work; I've hired someone at a lower responsibility level who can handle this. Let them earn their paycheck by taking care of this task,'" Coleman says.

While it sounds harsh, what you're really doing is changing your own patterns and that of your direct reports, and establishing greater trust. By backing off and allowing them to do what it is you hired them to do, they are gaining skills, knowledge and experience and are performing their job as specified -- and they're empowered to do so. Or, put another way, "You have to decouple the 'what' from the 'how'. In every project, every job, every task is 'what you want accomplished' and the 'how you want that task accomplished.' A micromanager will overemphasize the 'how' over the 'what' and will be laser focused on minutia to the detriment of the overall outcome," Hewes says.

"You have to let go and understand that there are a lot of different ways to 'how,' a lot of different ways to get things done. Especially in knowledge work, there's a lot of flexibility in the 'how.' It's not like surgery where you have to do certain steps in certain order or else someone dies," says Hewes.

Give It Time
And while it may seem painful and slow going, each step toward asking people to take responsibility for the 'how' and relinquishing some control is a step toward improving your relationships, growing your business, encouraging trust, engagement and productivity.


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